By on February 1, 2010

TORRANCE, Calif., February 1, 2010 – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A., Inc., today announced it will begin fixing accelerator pedals in recalled Toyota Division vehicles this week.  Toyota’s engineers have developed and rigorously tested a solution that involves reinforcing the pedal assembly in a manner that eliminates the excess friction that has caused the pedals to stick in rare instances.  In addition, Toyota has developed an effective solution for vehicles in production.

Parts to reinforce the pedals are already being shipped for use by dealers, and dealer training is under way.  Many Toyota dealers will work extended hours to complete the recall campaign as quickly and conveniently as possible, some even staying open 24 hours a day. The company has also taken the unprecedented action of stopping production of affected vehicles for the week of February 1.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive,” said Jim Lentz, president and Chief Operating Officer, TMS.  “We deeply regret the concern that our recalls have caused for our customers and we are doing everything we can – as fast as we can – to make things right.  Stopping production is never an easy decision, but we are 100% confident it was the right decision.  We know what’s causing the sticking accelerator pedals, and we know what we have to do to fix it.  We also know it is most important to fix this problem in the cars on the road.”

Lentz added: “We are focused on making this recall as simple and trouble-free as possible, and will work day and night with our dealers to fix recalled vehicles quickly.  We want to demonstrate that our commitment to safety is as high as ever and that our commitment to our customers is unwavering.”   On January 21, Toyota announced its intention to recall approximately 2.3 million select Toyota Division vehicles equipped with a specific pedal assembly and suspended sales of the eight models involved in the recall on January 26.   Toyota vehicles affected by the recall include:

• Certain 2009-2010 RAV4
• Certain 2009-2010 Corolla
• 2009-2010 Matrix
• 2005-2010 Avalon
• Certain 2007-2010 Camry
• Certain 2010 Highlander
• 2007-2010 Tundra
• 2008-2010 Sequoia

No Lexus Division or Scion vehicles are affected by these actions.  Also not affected are Toyota Prius, Tacoma, Sienna, Venza, Solara, Yaris, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser, Highlander hybrids and certain Camry models, including Camry hybrids, all of which remain for sale.   Further, Camry, RAV4, Corolla and Highlander vehicles with Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) that begin with “J” are not affected by the accelerator pedal recall.   In the event that a driver experiences an accelerator pedal that sticks in a partial open throttle position or returns slowly to idle position, the vehicle can be controlled with firm and steady application of the brakes.

The brakes should not be pumped repeatedly because it could deplete vacuum assist, requiring stronger brake pedal pressure.  The vehicle should be driven to the nearest safe location, the engine shut off and a Toyota dealer contacted for assistance.   Detailed information and answers to questions about issues related to this recall are available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall and at the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.  

How Toyota Will Fix Recalled Vehicles

Toyota has pinpointed the issue that could, on rare occasions, cause accelerator pedals in recalled vehicles to stick in a partially open position.  The issue involves a friction device in the pedal designed to provide the proper “feel” by adding resistance and making the pedal steady and stable.  The device includes a shoe that rubs against an adjoining surface during normal pedal operation.

Due to the materials used, wear and environmental conditions, these surfaces may, over time, begin to stick and release instead of operating smoothly.  In some cases, friction could increase to a point that the pedal is slow to return to the idle position or, in rare cases, the pedal sticks, leaving the throttle partially open.   Toyota’s solution for current owners is both effective and simple.  A precision-cut steel reinforcement bar will be installed into the assembly that will reduce the surface tension between the friction shoe and the adjoining surface.

With this reinforcement in place, the excess friction that can cause the pedal to stick is eliminated.  The company has confirmed the effectiveness of the newly reinforced pedals through rigorous testing on pedal assemblies that had previously shown a tendency to stick.   Separately from the recall for sticking accelerator pedals, Toyota is in the process of recalling vehicles to address rare instances in which floor mats have trapped the accelerator pedal in certain Toyota and Lexus models (announced November 25, 2009), and is already notifying customers about how it will fix this issue.  In the case of vehicles covered by both recalls, it is Toyota’s intention to remedy both at the same time.

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45 Comments on “Toyota’s Official Announcement...”


  • avatar
    shaker

    I completely missed that feature of the assembly – artificial resistance provided by the spring cup having a lever that engages grooves built into the pedal pivot – hmm.

    But it doesn’t look like this can be installed without disassembly of the pedal housing – ??

    Edit: I added a variation of this “feature” to my ’08 Elantra’s gas pedal – I added an extra return spring to the pedal arm (standard throttle cable type) to give it some “feel”, as the tip-in is rather aggressive, and my large, numb feet were having trouble modulating the gas.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    So it appears to be the pedal, and not some mysterious software or firmware glitch that is causing this.

    Which means that, until this fix is in place, one’s foot could be placed behind the pedal to pull a stuck accelerator back into place. I wonder why that recommendation is not being made?

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      It requires that the person behind the wheel (that would be called the driver) not panic and be able to have the dexterity to do this maneuver. We’ve had some folks who couldn’t move the gearshift lever to neutral (a far easier operation in my opinion).

    • 0 avatar

      Re mysterious soft or firmware glitch. No glitches have been confirmed. However, note that in the previous article, the Nikkei said:

      “Repairs for 5.4 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles that were recalled late last year over concerns that the floor mats could entrap the gas pedal will include trimming the gas pedal, modifying the floor pan and installing a new braking system to ensure the brakes override the accelerator when both pedals are depressed.”

      The release glosses over the 5.4 million. The saga continues.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      The suggestion to lift the pedal with the foot would not have been universially applicable to all sizes of feet and footwear.

      I can see where big feet or thick, blunt-toed, stiff-soled clodhoppers (ranging on the socio-economic scale from Doc Marten’s Classics, to Wing-tip brogues, and on the cultural-regional scale from Canadians shod in Sorels, Dutchmen clomping in clogs, Japanese shuffling in sandals (Geta), Valley Girls flitting in flip-flops and everything in between) would be unable to perform this operation…

      Instead of both feet on brakes, lever to neutral, engine to accy, driver would lose precious time trying to comply … most likely looking at their foot, rather than the surrounding environment, and even possibly trapping their foot behind the brake pedal and/or limiting the ability to fully depress the brake w/the LT foot due to interference of the RT foot.

      If Toyota had recommended this, they would have been liable for every case where someone had tried to follow the instruction but was, for whatever reason, unable to complete it.

      It was very good that this suggestion was never made.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The release glosses over the 5.4 million. The saga continues.

      Well, yes. Let’s say this was a recall on Saabs, and it affected every Saab sold since 2003. That would be, like, ten cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      BuzzDog,
      I don’t think I would agree with that statement. I think there is a software bug that when both pedals are full pressed, that throttle is not cut. I also wonder if the placing the foot behind the pedal would work at all. I don’t think either of the recalls have addressed this problem.
      http://www.leftlanenews.com/toyota-avalon-displays-unintended-acceleration-without-floor-mat.html
      Pressing the pedal didn’t seem to make any difference in this case which sounds like the pedal wasn’t stuck.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    OK This is a shim, to limit travel, keeping friction surfaces apart. Seems to make sense. I just hope the materials involved in the friction surface do not continue to evolve.

    How about remove the friction function altogether. Probably require machine work, however primitive, and a drop in part is preferable to them. Waitingfor new design pedal assembly is too long a wait.

    Damped return is nice in a ceiling mounted grab bar, or glove box door, but for gas pedal I prefer undamped simplicity.

    Remove the damped surfaces, in my book entirely.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      This isn’t really damping…it is friction or hysteresis. It duplicates the hysteresis of a cable throttle. It doesn’t change the return speed as much as it reduces the force required to hold the pedal at a position. It is designed to reduce the fatigue of holding the pedal at a position as well as make it easier to hold the pedal in a exact position.

      It works like this (numbers are made up but idea is what is important.) It takes maybe 20lbs to press the pedal down, but only 5lbs to hold it in position (20lbs push force, 5lbs return force.) This not only reduces driver fatigue, but makes it easier to hold the pedal in a constant position…over bumps and when the driver moves. As long as the driver holds between 5-20lbs of force, the pedal stays at it’s exact location.

      Now imagine a system with 0 hysteresis. The driver would have to hold exactly 20lbs, all the time to have a constant pedal position…and therefore constant throttle. You would have to hold that load even as the car hits bumps in the road. That is fatiguing and very difficult to do…impossible, actually.

  • avatar
    mach1

    First it was a “floor mat” issue, then it was a “wear issue”now Jim Lentz says it may also be a “moisture in the pedal” issue with only a offhand comment that perhaps the control logic might have an issue too. Either Toyota gas been fumbling in the dark for a cause or they have done a poor job of communicating with the public. This is going to cost Toyota a bundle:
    - Direct cost of the recall `$400 million
    - Loss of production
    - Damage to reputation (and future sales)
    I have personal experience with a major recall and it cracks me up to see the stylized legalize used to describe these situations!

    • 0 avatar
      guyincognito

      I agree that it appears that Toyota has been “fumbling in the dark”. To me, this says that they have been unable to reproduce the issue and are targeting the most likely causes. I do wonder why they didn’t implement the brake override fix more quickly, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Geotpf

      Or, more likely, they found, and fixed, two seperate problems while tracking down the complaints. Not everything is a cospiracy theory.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    @Toyota “A precision-cut steel reinforcement bar will be installed into the assembly that will reduce the surface tension between the friction shoe and the adjoining surface.”

    Well, I’m relieved to hear it’s precision-cut, and not that regular old sloppy-cut steel they must use in the rest of the car.

    When the explanation is unnecessarily embellished with words like “precision”, I know some one is trying to smoke me. It makes me suspect there’s more going on than we’re being told.

  • avatar
    Philip Riegert

    Sounds completely realistic. Damn technology to make it feel normal – just screws up in the end!

    It shocks me how they would design it so that at the furthest away point, those teeth should not even have the potential of touching. Id be interested in knowing how the Denso pedal assembly achieves the same ‘normal feeling’ without using those silly teeth.

    As a Toyota service employee I cannot wait to start getting these stupid metal shims in. Atleast I have some news for people. And it looks like if the pedal did stick on – it would only be insigificant amount of acceleration.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Philip, if someone was getting on the interstate and pushed the pedal to the metal, it could potentially stick in a WOT condition. That would be a pretty severe amount of accel. At slow speeds, due to being in lower gears, you could create a pretty significant delta with not a huge throttle input.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      One of the first things a driver could be expected to do when the pedal sticks, is to further depress the pedal … depending on how fast and how far the tap or smash it down, it could possibly stick in the further depressed position, this would be easily be taken for acceleration …

      I’m not sure any more, but the guy who had this happen who made it to the Toyota dealer, was his pedal still movable over the entire apparent range? If so, then another failure mode was at work in that vehicle, something the shim fix may not address.

      Can somebody post a clear (verified and supposition free) summary of that incident in this thread?)

  • avatar
    tced2

    I don’t completely understand the diagram. (Are the views of the “teeth” top views of the assembly?)
    But it appears the “precision cut steel reinforcement” seems to either prevent distortion of the plastic or prevents the plastic from moving – hence the teeth seem to have friction against each other in a more repeatable way. If the plastic distorted then the friction could be higher between the teeth which prevents return of the pedal to its normal position.

    • 0 avatar
      Philip Riegert

      If that is true it sounds like the pedal assembly might require replacement if it has been distorted at all.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Plastic has that property which allows it to be deformed a bit and then spring back. (elasticity)
      The desire is to have a known, repeatable amount of friction in the operation of the pedal.

    • 0 avatar
      guyincognito

      The diagram is showing a cutaway in the bubble that is a top down view of the intersection between the rounded end of the pedal and the friction device. The washer, I mean “precision cut steel reinforcement”, pushes the bottom of the friction device forward, and thus the top back, reducing the interference between the two parts. It is interesting that they are still leaving some interference.

  • avatar
    Morea

    @tced2

    ALL materials have an elastic (springy) deformation mode and a plastic (permament) deformation mode. In addition many materials creep (slowly deform over long time scales with a small force only great enough to cause elastic deformation on short time scales).

    The plastic pedal assembly may creep over long use causing this problem.

    Plastic for critical mechanical components = Big No No. (Just ask Boeing.)

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Yes, of course – and metal parts rubbing against each other cannot be relied upon to generate the friction either. But the point is that a certain amount of friction is desired. It would be very difficult to operate the pedal with “zero” friction. To repeat myself, a controlled and repeatable amount of friction is desired over the entire life of the pedal assembly. When the friction becomes greater than the force available from the spring-return, then you get the pedal “stuck”. And apparently (according to Toyota) the friction does get too large at times (“rare occurrences”). The “precision cut metal reinforcement” ensures consistency of the friction by making the plastic surfaces of the teeth touch each other predictably.

    • 0 avatar
      Morea

      I 100% agree with you. And while the washer we remain essentially unchanged for the life of the car the plastic pedal will deform slowly over time necessitating another washer of different thickness to be installed eventually. Within the life of the car? Very hard to predict.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I find it funny how their marketing has renamed a a $.03 washer as a “Precision cut steel reinforcement bar”.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Don’t be surprised to see words like… “in-depth investigation … highly confident … convinced … installed by a highly-qualified and trained technician.”

      They may very well be true, but they are also “halo words” intended to inspire confidence.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Ok, I read Bertel’s posting of Toyota’s text thrice and gooked at the graphics oh so nice twice … and have the following preliminary comments (for my earlier comments, look to Bertel’s previous article)…

    Boy oh boy, I wish I had one of these assys to fondle (I could then be much more precice in my following condemnenation).

    The “precision-cut” part remediates a “wedging” type sticking between the flanks of the sensor tower and the adjoining slot in the end of the accl pedal lever …

    I had never expected this was due to a design that had an intentional press-fit between the lever and the sensor tower … (I had been wondering if the “feel modifier” was that little lip on the return spring cover)…

    I can find the centering aspect of this wedge design to be understandable, even desireable and necessary to provide rigidity to the assy and protect the sensor tower under pedal side-loading…

    That said, I find the double-wedge aspect of the design to be absurd …

    Friction is the bane of engineering, engineers generally hate and try to avoid it because it is so incredibly unreliable, and variable due to being affected by just about everything within the heliosphere (or at least under the Sun) … If you want to see a laundry list, look to my earliest postings for the discussion of tribologic issues due to vehicle enviromental conditions (hot/cold, moist/dry), material hydroscopicity considerations, and insufficient (wrong type or quantity) lubrication…

    If one is going to make a pedal using a non-contacting sensor, why intentionally design an assy that has such contact (yes, I know there are other considerations, but, come-on…)

    I just don’t believe the explanation that this was an intentioal “feel modifier” …

    This feels to me like:
    1. a very, very, bad design of a travel limiter (working with a wedging effect (did somebody forget that wedging is what locks mechanical components together???), or
    2. a very, very, bad design using close clearances but failing to take into account: a) variations within multiple molds, b) vehicle environmental conditions (see Tribology above).

    The remediation solution almost guarantees the necessity of a reflash:
    - the assy’s axis of rotation (shown in the graphic as a BMW-logo like black-and-white roundel) is given by the geometries in the parts, and thus is unchanged by the addition of the travel-limiting shim;
    - the shim prevents wedge-locking by (hopefully) preventing wedge contact by limiting max rotation of the lever;
    - if the lever rotation is reduced, so to will be the voltages coming out of the Hall-sensor…
    - reduced voltages mean the vehicle, if not modified, will think the driver is never, never, calling for WOT (100% open throttle due to 100% rotation of pedal lever);
    - to not affect drivablity of the vehicles (afterall customers would eventually notice that on track day, their sprint times had noticably been reduced), the software in the vehicle would have to be modified to understand something <5.0V as being WOT;

    Summary: Maybe I'm smoking dope (no not really), but this nearly guarantees a re-flash for the pedal position consideration alone.

    Toss-in new code to subjugate engine output to idle under full-brake application and you may have the entire fix…

    But, it will remain open to speculation what other code patches are bundeled into Toyota's Automatic Update …

    I don't yet understand the size, shape, or relationship of the spring to the other existing components, but am also wondering if there will be any new issues due to coil-on-coil contact in the springs (not between the two, but within each of the two), or unusual force flow distribution or stress concentration not contemplated in the original design.

    I’m going to try and see if I can find Today’s Lentz-interview and see what I can garner from that … Rather than edit the above text, I’ll post any modifications (additions/corrections) as a reply to it.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Impressions/questions from Lentz-interveiw:
      - “I drive Toyotas, my family members and friends drive Toyotas … I would not have them in products I do not believe are safe.”

      This reminded me of the Cigarette-CEO’s congressional testimony, “Yes, I smoke my company’s product and, no, I don’t believe it is dangerous.”

      - “SUA can be due to many things, cruise control, transmission shifting …”

      Such statements open cans of worms.

      - “Dealer service personnel are already trained in implementing the fix.”

      Philip Riegert: Can you tell us if this is true? Were your colleagues trained in the fix prior to this morning? As I understand it, the dealers only received the official TSB this morning … It seems like Toyota is trying to compress timelines to give the appearance that things are moving quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      Eric Bryant

      Every single ETC pedal on the market employs some sort of device to add hysteresis (friction) to the pedal movement. If you want to know what this is necessary, then go play with the pedals on a Logitech PS3 game controller – without friction, a pedal just does not feel “right”.

      A search of patents will reveal a large number of ways in which to accomplish this function.

      The washer does not limit the travel of the pedal. It does limit the travel of the hysteresis lever, which will reduce the friction at large pedal travels but should retain normal feel at smaller throttle openings.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Unfortunately, I’ve not had a physical sample, and have to rely on the teardown photos posted by Paul and the USA-today graphic.

      I totally get the concept of hysteresis – we struggled to minimize this both during development of rotary-diesel injection pump equipped new engines and torsional compliant steering systems – and I can agree that it might be desireable to induce hysteresis to minimize foot fatigue.

      Perhaps the USA Today graphic is misleading … but they show undesired contact between the tower and the valley … given the fixed point of rotation in the system, and the contact points shown in the graphic, I can’t see how this contact will be eliminated unless total pedal travel is restricted as described above.

      I tried to find more on the Toyota page, but did not … but in the other media reports, I see a shift of description of the bonus part from “washer-shim” to “reinforcement bar” …

      So, perhaps we have to wait until we really know what the part looks like and where it goes.

  • avatar

    I don’t know if this is a reliable source but somebody on IMUS’s radio morning show said this was just a coverup for the more serious electrical and computer issues with toyota engines.
    If this turns out to be true then things will get even worse.

    Toyota is now number one and has inherited all of GM’s problems. This is toyota’s own Convair and Pinto crisis.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      NHTSA should require Toyota to detail what is contained in the widely expected re-flash … the code doesn’t have to be published, but the functionality that the code will modify, add or remove should be clearly detailed and publicized (at least on the NHTSA and Toyota websites) … and this should be the standard for any recall, from any OEM, involving s/w-related changes.

    • 0 avatar
      Geotpf

      I seriously doubt this. The following sentence is why:

      “Further, Camry, RAV4, Corolla and Highlander vehicles with Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) that begin with “J” are not affected by the accelerator pedal recall.”

      That is, Japanese-made vehicles (which contain the Denso part instead of the CTS one) of the same make and models of recalled North American-made models are specifically not recalled. If there was a computer problem that needed a reflash, chances are that the software would be identical in both Japanese and North Aemrican-made models, so they wouldn’t exclude them.

  • avatar
    mcs

    I’m still curious about the hall effect sensor (or hopefully sensors) in the pedal. I’d like to know how they would handle a failure in that component. They do fail and every hall effect sensor spec sheet that I’ve seen warns against using them in “safety” related applications. How tolerant is their sensor design for noise or fluctuation in the power to the component? This may very well be a mechanical issue and Toyota’s diagnosis may be correct, but I’m really curious about that part of the design.

    I have a background in aviation systems design (although no control design experience) and we were really paranoid about failures and always trying to think of every possible scenario. I still have that mindset and maybe I’m over-reacting a bit, but that’s the way I was trained.

    I have three cars with drive-by-wire throttles, but only one of them is an automatic and it has the Denso unit. So, I do have a bit of skin in the game. Is the Denso unit really safe?

    • 0 avatar
      Geotpf

      Since Toyota is going out of their way to NOT recall the vehicles with the Denso units, I would say they are safe, unless you are like most of the comentators here who are busy counting snipers on the grassy knoll.

    • 0 avatar
      Eric Bryant

      In a non-contacting (Hall effect) pedal, safety is handled in the following fashion:

      1) Two “tracks” (outputs) are used. It is typical to use a separate Hall device or ASIC for each output (each track also gets its own reference voltage and ground). Each IC willl typically perform a built-in self-test at the start of each key cycle in order to verify that the device is functioning properly.

      2) Each track uses an output with a different slope and offset. The ECM rationally checks these outputs against each other such that a failure of one or both sensors can be detected. The devices typically stay away from the rail voltages by a margin of 5-10% so that opens and shorts can be detected. It is usually possible to compesate for variations in supply voltage and ground offsets.

      3) The magnets employed by the sensors provide a larger flux density than would typically be provided by any source of interference. The sensors are also designed to be sensitive only to flux in a particular direction to make it more difficult for interference to couple in a manner that “looks” like a plausible change in pedal position. Additionally, some pedals use magnetic shielding.

      These designs are not implemented casually.

  • avatar
    riko

    Toyota did not know about the problem? That is a gas. Last April my wife bought a Euro made Yaris with what they call a MMT transmission. (Basically a robotized auto 6-speed with a mono clutch.)

    Second week she had it, it would not start. Called Toyota assistance and they asked if we blocked the accelerator. No.

    She has been stranded no less than four times the exact same way. The garage’s answer is my wife does not know how to use the “automatic” transmission. Just saw it has the CTS pedal. And to think I was going to trade my Audi for a Lexus.

    (The really sad part about it was that it is a real hoot to drive. I loved it. Real cheap thrills!)

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Doesn’t it seem like this fix is going to reduce the hysteresis in the system and thereby make the accelerator pedal much more touchy in normal use? Sometimes fixing one problem creates another.

    What is really needed here is a method which produces a more consistent friction effect over both time and environmental variable. What Toyota seems to have done is to simply reduce the baseline friction in the system.

  • avatar
    Maverick

    My question is that if the Denso-supplied unit didn’t have problems, why don’t they use that design? It seems strange that Toyota would allow two differing designs when they could have just had CTS manufacture the Denso unit here in the U.S. Especially in lean manufacturing, the idea is to reduce complexity. Hmmm.

    Second, WTF is a “precision-cut steel reinforcement bar”? Why the fancy Rube Goldberg-ian language? Corporate double-speak, PR BS is what has undermined Toyota’s reputation. Why not say this: “It’s a simple fix really. A $2 shim reinforces the accelerator pedal and ensures that this won’t happen to your car. Period. Shims have been used for hundreds of years, they are simple, they work, and they are the solution for this problem”.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Do they need to tighten up the tolerance stackup limits?

    Why does this problem not happen immediately? Could local permanent creep deformation in the plastic around the pivot pin/bushing put it out of tolerance with time and/or use? The Denso unit looks like it may spread that concentrated load a little better into the plastic, but hard for me to tell from the TTAC pix.

    Ever wonder why computer printers/faxes are so short lived? (Other than the fact that the companies make money on supplies). They have tight tolerances for paper feed and a lot of components under permanent load that are plastic. Over a few years time, they sort of ooze out of spec to the point where the feed and registration becomes unreliable. We don’t care – they were cheap and the next one will be too. Also, they don’t kill you. Hope Toyota’s and other car manufacturer’s reinforced plastic is better than that.

    What’s going to happen as the plastic ages and possibly embrittles?

  • avatar
    Catherine

    I am not an engineer or a technician, but I am a retired cop who has a few investigations under my belt. So what I am keyed in on is that most of the anecdotal/witness reports I have read or heard about (including the CHP officer who was killed in the Lexus)indicated that the problem was not a stuck accelerator; some drivers were decelerating for a stop when the throttle opened with no depression of the accelerator. It seems to me that too many of these accounts are being dismissed as creeping floor mats or hysterical drivers who confused the accelerator for the brake. A veteran highway patrol officer knows how to move a floor mat and would probably also have attempted to un-stick a stuck pedal with his foot or shift into neutral without becoming hysterical. Whether Toyota’s plan will change a sticky accelerator is for you professionals to assess, but I remain unconvinced that this is the ultimate source of the problem. Please convince me, because my mother and two close friends drive these Toyotas.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Sorry Catherine, I’m not sure any of us can really do that. This is the job of Toyota, and to a lesser extent, US-DOT (increasingly as accidents and publicity mount.)

      Of the two vehicles that ended up on their roofs, first one Dec 26, in TX, in a pond, 4 dead, mats in trunk, and the second, yesterday, in KY, in a river bed, driver in “intensive care”, mats unknown (at least to me), I would hope NHTSA-SCI (Special Crash Investigation) and NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) along with Toyota would tear into these vehicles to look for, or at least confirm the suspected, root cause(s).

    • 0 avatar
      Geotpf

      The issue with the dead CHP officer was compounded by the fact that that vehicle was a loaner (hence the wrong floor mats, placed by the dealer), and the fact that the vehicle had push button start. The officer, not familar with the car, could not shift the vehicle into neutral or park or pull the key out due to the push button start. The proper emergency shut down was to hold down the start button for four seconds (like on a computer), but he didn’t know that.

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    I am fortunate to have spent several years in Japan and I have a better than average knowledge of the culture. Fact is, Japan is not the highly organised ant colony people like to think it is. It is, in many ways, feudal. With tons of technology but feudal. I received an email from a Japanese friend of mine on the weekend which describes what it is like working in a Japanese organisation, in this case the government, but private companies are practically the same. In fact, business and government ARE the same, but I digress. With his permission, I posting my friend’s description of how things are done in Japan:

    “Decision making is extremely slow. So much of paper work.
    Last year, I asked them for approval of purchase, approximately 20 million Yen.I had to collect 27 approval stamps (Hanko). It tooks more than a month. Since deadline was coming near, I had to visit some of board members’ office by train to ask for their stamps.”

    See why things move so slowly?

  • avatar
    K.T. Keller

    Knowing how the modern Computer controlled vehicles operate, I immediately suspected a firmware bug in their ECM (Engine Control Module). Since the accelerator pedal controls a rheostat (variable resistor) which signals the ECM, and not a mechanical linkage to a carburetor as in the old days, full throttle could occur without touching the accelerator. The ECM scans all sensors (and the rheostat) about 8 times a seconds and the computer controls the fuel injectors with Pulse Duration Modulation, such that an “open throttle” condition could occur without touching the accelerator (rheostat). This would explain several victims stating that the vehicle takes off like full throttle without the driver’s foot touching the accelerator! I think this band aid fix will not fix the problem, and will result in Toyota looking like a bunch of poor investigators, dummies (or crooks). We will see, what will be, as TIME WILL TELL! The constant reliance on people writing defective software and the blind reliance on the computer as perfect will continue to plaque the public who drives.


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Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India